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Apple accounts for 51 percent of new mobile activations this Christmas

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Phablet popularity also surged, from 3 percent of devices in 2012 to 13 percent in 2014

Christmas Day is always a good yardstick for success in the mobile industry. New devices are unwrapped and activated, and manufacturers get a clear idea of how they compare to their rivals. This year, however, it wasn't difficult to work out a winner: Apple easily beat off the competition, with analytics company Flurry reporting that the iPhones and iPads accounted for 51 percent of all new devices activated worldwide. The iPhone 6 was the most commonly activated device overall, while the iPhone 6 Plus was also in the top five.

Flurry doesn't explicitly define "activations" but as a company that primarily analyses app usage, it's likely that they're recording the number of new devices registered with app stores rather than activations with mobile carriers, for example. Whatever it is, Apple easily beat the nearest competitor Samsung, which claimed 18 percent of the share, while Microsoft took third place with 5.8 percent of devices, mostly Lumias.

Of the remaining companies, only Sony and LG were able to claim more than a 1 percent share (1.6 percent and 1.4 percent respectively) while Chinese firms including Xiaomi and Huawei filled in the rest of the gaps. (Although it should be noted that these brands are not strongest in countries where Christmas is widely celebrated.)

Shifting tastes in form factor were also evident this year, as more phablets were activated than ever before in the week leading up to Christmas, and interest in tablets — both small and full-size — waned. From 3 percent of new activations in 2012 and 4 percent in 2013, Flurry reports that 13 percent of new devices were phablets this year thanks in part to demand for the iPhone 6 Plus. All these new devices also resulted in an expected bump in the number of apps installed, with 2.5 times the usual amount of installations with messaging apps and games as the most popular choices.